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despotism

despotism, government by an absolute ruler unchecked by effective constitutional limits to his power. In Greek usage, a despot was ruler of a household and master of its slaves. The title was applied to gods and, by derivation, to the quasi-divine rulers of the Middle East. In the Byzantine Empire, despot was a title of honor of the emperors and their relatives and of vassal princes of the tributary states and dignitaries of the Eastern Church. The Ottoman Empire perpetuated the term as applied to church officials and territorial princes. The 18th-century doctrine of the Enlightenment influenced such absolutist rulers as Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine II of Russia, and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II toward a rule of beneficent intent known as benevolent despotism. However, despot is now a term of opprobrium.

See L. Krieger, ed., An Essay on the Theory of Enlightened Despotism (1975); K. A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power (1981); F. J. Maitland, The Theory of Despotism in Germany (1988).

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"despotism." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"despotism." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/despotism

"despotism." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/despotism

despot

des·pot / ˈdespət/ • n. a ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way. DERIVATIVES: des·pot·ic / diˈspätik/ adj. des·pot·i·cal·ly / diˈspätik(ə)lē/ adv. ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: from French despote, via medieval Latin from Greek despotēs ‘master, absolute ruler.’ Originally (after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople) the term denoted a petty Christian ruler under the Turkish empire. The current sense dates from the late 18th cent.

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"despot." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"despot." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot-0

"despot." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot-0

despot

despot lord, prince, ruler XVI; absolute ruler, tyrant XVIII. — F. despote, earlier †despot — medL. despota — Gr. despótēs master, lord.
So despotic XVII, despotism XVIII.

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"despot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"despot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot-1

"despot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot-1

despotism

despotism See ABSOLUTISM.

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"despotism." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"despotism." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despotism

"despotism." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despotism

despot

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"despot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"despot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot

"despot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved May 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/despot